But what happens if you’ve always wanted to travel, but you don’t have anybody to join you on your trip? It’s dangerous and lonely to travel alone, right? Unfortunately, these kinds of thoughts commonly prevent many prospective travelers from ever leaving the comfort of their lives at home.
This is a huge shame, as the thought of going it alone needn’t be something that prevents anybody from traveling. In reality, there are some massive benefits to solo travel that arguably make it even more enjoyable and fulfilling than traveling with others.
After all, once you’ve got over the initial nerves, you get total, unrestricted freedom to do what you want, when you want. You are more likely to meet others, learn about yourself and develop as a person, and much much more.
So, here are some of the top reasons why not having anybody to go with should never stop you from traveling, and why millions of people do it every year. Learn to embrace the freedom, not be scared of it!
You have more freedom
Probably the most obvious and potentially the main benefit of traveling alone is the increased amount of freedom you have. Imagine just how liberating it is to have absolutely nobody but yourself to tell you what to do and where to go.
If you decide you like somewhere more than expected, then you can stay there for a few more days. If you hear how great the neighboring country is to visit, you can rearrange your itinerary to fit it in. There is literally no limit to what you can do (except maybe your budget…).
I have personally experienced the frustration of traveling with a friend who insisted on sticking to a rigid schedule. My attempts to make some deviations from this resulted in arguments and bad feelings. This sort of thing just doesn't happen when you’re traveling alone.
It’s easy to meet people
It’s all well and good having the freedom to do what you want, but where’s the fun in that if you’re lonely all the time?
Well, it turns out that, contrary to what you may think, it’s actually easier to meet people when traveling on your own than it is when you’re with others. There are a few reasons why this is the case.
For example, as an individual, you are much less intimidating for others to approach, especially other solo travelers. This means you’re going to find yourself meeting others and striking up friendships without even trying to.
Another reason is that if you’re alone, you are forced to go and speak to others. Trust me, even if you’re a naturally shy person, you will easily find the motivation to go and start a conversation with a stranger if it’s the only way you’re going to have any social contact. You’re also more likely to build genuine friendships rather than just acquaintances, which is far more fulfilling.
A great way to make sure you’ll have lots of chances to meet other travelers is to stay in the communal or dormitory-style accommodation. Even if the lack of privacy doesn’t immediately appeal to you, it means you’ll be in close proximity to other travelers who also want to meet other people, and it’s very cheap.
It forces you out of our comfort zone and teaches you about yourself
Ultimately, everybody finds the concept of solo travel a little scary, even the more adventurous, self-confident of us. To be honest, it would be weird if you weren’t slightly daunted by the idea of going to a foreign country where you know nobody and are living out of a backpack.
However, the good thing about this inevitable fear is that it forces you out of your comfort zone, which is the best way to learn new things about yourself and the world around you.
The key to overcoming your nerves is to embrace the fact that you are being forced into an unfamiliar situation and get excited about all the new experiences it’s going to bring you.
You are exposed to so many new people, cultures, opinions, ideas, and experiences that you would never have at home, that most people come back from a solo trip feeling like a different person to the one that left home, in the best possible way.
It’s safer than you think
Safety is often a big concern for solo travelers, as well as their families and friends. However, there’s no real reason why traveling alone should be any less safe than traveling with others if you follow some basic common sense rules.
Things like avoiding arriving in new places alone at night, not carrying much cash, using taxis to get around, telling people where you’re going, and researching areas before you go can go a long way to keeping you safe.
If you (or your parents!) are really worried about safety, then you can always join an organized tour group, or become a volunteer overseas. These kinds of programs will ensure that you are surrounded by lots of other like-minded, solo travelers. It also puts you in contact with local communities that you would struggle to reach as a normal traveler. Many volunteers even end up making good friendships with locals.
A lot of people begin their trip with an organized tour or volunteer program in order to get their bearings and build their confidence, then head off traveling alone or even with others they’ve met on the program.
Don’t let the fear of traveling alone stop you from seeing the world
The benefits of traveling alone far outweigh the negatives, and once you’ve overcome the initial worries, you will never look back.
So don’t let your fears get in the way. Get out there and see the world!